Chapter 5. What To Do? 10 Recommendations

Get To Them Early

Three days after the iPad was released in 2010, a new owner handed his two-and-a-half-year-old toddler the device and videoed the results. That video has been viewed over a million times on YouTube. Besides the statement it makes about the intuitiveness of Apple’s design—even toddlers can use the device—the video speaks to the role of technology in our lives today. A generation of children is being raised with iPad and iPhone in hand. Their expectations for user experience may be formed before their fifth birthday. “Baby duck syndrome,” according to Wikipedia, “denotes the tendency for computer users to ‘imprint’ on the first system they learn, then judge other systems by their similarity to that first system.” The question vendors should be asking is what happens when “imprinting” occurs before a child can walk?

That problem, fortunately, is relatively specific to consumer technologies. Understandably, very few toddlers are choosing a relational database or web server. But as commercial vendors increasingly compete with open source software alternatives, getting to would-be developers early is vital. When commercial software was all that was available, vendor recruitment of students could be more opportunistic. But as entire crops of students passed through colleges and universities using nothing but open source software, it was no surprise that many went on to build businesses using these same tools instead of their commercial ...

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